12 December 2013

Perth, Australia - with Kath and Karen

The plans for this visit to Australia seemed to take so long, but eventually Kath and Karen found dates which were compatibly suitable with Jill and Amanda Houston - the organisers in Perth, Australia.  They found a suitable venue with air conditioning which would be necessary in November due to this being the start of Spring "down under!"
The journey began with an overnight stay at Heathrow and then a morning flight on Singapore Airways on a huge Airbus A 380.  The wing span on these planes is 80m but because it is two floors, Kath and Karen selected seats on the upper deck which kept noise to a minimum for this long flight.  A very short transfer time in Singapore meant they were soon arriving in Perth to be met by the lovely Jill Houston.
After a good night's sleep, they joined with Jill and Amanda to collect the equipment and do some food shopping before relaxing at their super home.
But they didn't rest  for long as the evening had been planned for a meal at the Perth Harness Racing with Jill and her husband, Patrick.
What a fabulous experience this was - with a race every 30 minutes and a chance to look around the stables.
 And of course it was a very pleasant evening at around 27 degrees with a comfortable breeze.
A great buffet meal with a grandstand view of the races.  Kath and Karen also had the opportunity to meet some of those attending the seminars, meeting with old friends too!!  What a super evening.
Won by a "nose"!
It was so good to see families and friends gathering on the manicured lawns for a night out.
Unfortunately, only a couple of weeks before the trainers arrived in Australia, Jill found out that dogs were not allowed on a path needed to reach the original venue. But pulling out all stops they found a substitute venue with a huge marquee especially erected for the training weekend outside.   The trainers had 24 handlers and a further 12 spectators, so only managed to capture a few photos as they were too busy.
It was good to see the handlers working as teams - most useful in HTM as feedback and teamwork is so useful to help everyone involved in the sport.  The attendees were a super group of people, very keen and happy to have a go at everything.
After two busy days, it was time for a visit with Jill and Amanda to Kings Park, Perth.
This is a huge botanical garden - over 400 hectares, overlooking the Swan River and Darling Range and showcases an outstanding collection of Western Australia flora.  
This is a Boab Tree - which was transported over 3200km to the park  At over 750 years old it is a very special tree.  Read more HERE
The map of the trees very long journey. (via Mount Hardman!)
The centre of Perth and the bronze kangaroos.
The following day had been set aside for a visit to AQWA - the aquarium of Western Australia.  So many different species of fish and sea life - including something Kath and Karen had never seen before - a Leafy Sea Dragon.  
And of course - straight to the restaurant for a fish lunch for Kath.    Not just any fish but this was Barramundi - a native fish of Australia.  Delicious.
Jill opted for a vegetarian salad and Karen a beautiful lasagne.
Jill had pulled out all the stops to ensure both travellers visited as much as possible around Perth.  The weather was a glorious 27 degrees most days with a lovely breeze which made sure it was very pleasant.  A visit to Penguin Island was next on the Agenda!
A short ferry trip to the island to see the Little Penguins native to Australia - and which live on the island.  These were the rescued penguins and those bred in captivity on the island.
And then onto a large speed boat to find dolphins in the wild.  It didn't take long for the pilot to spot a group in the beautiful Indian Ocean.
After being able to look at the dolphins slowly gathering around the boat - the pilot then accelerated to give them some surf to jump through.  The dolphins love this as it rids their bodies of dead skin cells and any parasites!

Karen making sure she had a good view!
Whilst on the boat we saw an Osprey on the top of a rock with babies in the nest.  A magnificent sight!
And then the cruise took them to another island where the male sea lions sunbathed all day long.
When the breeding season starts they swim North - to meet the female sea lions swimming South.  Then after breeding they return to their respective areas - the males to sleep whilst the females rear the young!!
And finally a day at Perth Zoo when Amanda joined the party of tourists again.
Another very nice day - it was so good to feel the warmth of the sun!
A Jacaranda Tree with its beautiful blue/purple flowers.

Jill had arranged a very special treat for Kath and Karen - a visit to the Bull Elephant enclosure.

This elephant was around 15 years old and had been trained using positive reinforcement only!  HE could lie down, turn a quarter turn,
he could sit,
he could stretch with front and back legs out,
lift his trunk and each ear - all these moves on verbal command!!
It certainly helped him get an all over power wash!
Everything he did was on verbal command - each keeper trains the elephant - but they each train something different.
Even the size of this elephant on hind legs and as steady as a rock!!   All for an apple or some hay.
Time to leave the elephant after a wonderful extra to the trip.
and on to visiting the rest of the animals in this lovely zoo.  African Wild Dogs
Their colouring is spectacular.
A male lion at peace with the world!
The biggest rhinoceros ever!
Sunbathing Kangaroos.
Hang in there Koala!
And the tourist visits didn't finish there - now on to the Perth Mint.
Copies of the first nuggets found!!!  HUGE.  There was also a visit to the Gold Pouring - more information HERE.  A wonderful insight into the mint.
And at the end of the day, the travellers dropped into the supermarket where there was a stand collecting donations for some wildlife that had been rescued - Karen with a beautiful "lizard".
Kath with baby pythons around her neck.
And a very special photo of an Australian Dingo!!
Back home to Jill and Amanda's beautiful home.
A superb purpose built Training Hall.
With insulation to keep it cool!!
Their fabulous home.
And the hosts, Jill and Patrick Houston who looked after Kath and Karen so well and made sure their short visit to Western Australia was certainly something very special.
Jill drove the pair to Perth Airport where the first of their two planes home was waiting to be boarded.
Singapore Airport for a transfer to a plane homeward bound!   And all ready for Christmas.
Singapore Airport Christmas decorations - beautiful!!

Kath and Karen would once again like to thank Jill, Patrick and Amanda Houston for their very generous hospitality.  A trip to a beautiful part of the world, where new friendships were made and will always be remembered.

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